This project fits in the research theme about "distinct Interaction outcome, trait divergence, and coevolution in ecological networks" from the JP-2 project. Here we will investigate the structure of the network interactions of a commensal-mutualistic association among birds that remove ectoparasites and other food types from herbivorous mammals. Our hypothesis is that these associations, that in nature range from commensalism to mutualism, show similar network structure observed in other mutualisms, such as seed dispersal and cleaning mutualisms in marine ecosystems. If so, we hope that the networks formed by this cleaning interactions will demonstrate higher values of nastiness and low values of modularity. In this cases, we hope that some few species of birds/cleaners will be central in the organization of this networks. At last, we will investigate possible ecological factors that may influence the centrality of the cleaners and the hosts species in our interaction network.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: